Friday, July 21, 2006

Poetry Friday: The Word is "Doorknob"

Thanks to Mother of Invention for offering up the Poetry Friday Word for today! Please feel free to use the word "doorknob" in your blog post today, in whatever form wipes your soggy brow...poem, story, photo, recipe for chocolate cake, aerobic exercise video.... I had a plethora (a plethora!) of images come to mind, and chose to do one short story and one Free Write. I couldn't find a recipe of any kind that uses a doorknob, but maybe I wasn't looking hard enough.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Do Not Disturb

On his trip to Europe during senior year of college, he’d stolen the door hanger, one of those plastic “Do Not Disturb” signs with the cartoon lady winking and holding her shushing finger to her lips. The message was repeated in French, German, Japanese, Italian, and Korean. None of which I could read, and all of which he could.

He was always an overachiever.

As much as I tried to resist, or pretended I’d try, I let him seduce me into his bed upon our second date. He hung the shushing lady sign on the doorknob, on the inside, curiously, and led me to his bed whispering sweet French into my ear.

Oh, I fell for that entirely.

At the time, I didn’t know and didn’t care if he dated anyone else, as long as I had my one or two nights a week tumbling in the moistness of his sheets, and he stroked my hair afterwards and called me ‘darling’. All of which he did, and did well. He was my addiction, and every meeting was wasted time until he hung that sign on the doorknob and his eyes narrowed and softened, and his voice licked my neck and sent me shuddering to nakedness. Only later did I find out about his fierce monogamy, and by then, well....

The trip to Mexico changed him.

We talked about it before he left, the unrest there, the silent killings, the need for discretion and self-control. He knew what he was walking into, he was thrilled by it, wanted to chew and swallow it and savor it on his tongue. I couldn’t stop him if I wanted, and didn’t want to stop him anyway…this venture of his, this decision, was part of the deal. Four weeks is a long time to worry, and so I decided not to.

He came back. He came back vacant and haunted, with an addiction greater than lust.

He stopped talking.

Then he stopped sleeping.

When I went to pick up the last of my things from his flat, I noticed he’d stopped breathing.

I knew it was coming, but even still, the sight of him curled like a child on his bed, with the evidence all around him, sent me screaming. Screaming and swearing at his skin, throwing a shoe and a drinking glass for good measure. I sat beside his body for, god, I don’t know how long, before I called the police station. A dead body was nothing for them to rush around for, not in our city, and I knew I had a good half hour to get away unnoticed. I gathered up my spare toothbrush and NYU t-shirt, took one last look at his paleness, and closed the door behind me, adding his shushing lady sign to my armload of possessions, stumbling to the train, rolling the foreign words around my heavy tongue on the way home.

Free Write, "Doorknob"

It was an old house, what they called a 'Centennial House', in the family for generations, full of curious wooden rooms hidden behind the fireplace and the closet, the bannister rubbed smooth from decades of hands on the finish, the window panes wavy, the oriental rugs worn, the attic full of trunks, like in cartoons. My brother and I were left alone to explore, while the grown-ups drank gallons of coffee sweetened with evaporated milk. The 'off-limits' rooms were opened, the creaks in the floorboards found, the secrets dusted off with puffs of breath.

On the second floor, all the doors had shiny brass doorknobs. Thomas and I would press our faces to them and laugh at the distortion of our noses in the reflections. We'd count them in our language, the words we made up while avoiding sweaty sleep in the heat of summer..."Ura...dona...tooree...."

The doorknobs on the third floor were diamonds. We knew this, although the grown-ups swore they were cut glass. We knew better. We used them to cut small mirrors from forgotten dressers in forgotten rooms. We unscrewed them, shoved them in our shorts pockets and pretended to find them on our expeditions, screwed them back on, lost one, found it.

I discovered one in the attic, detached and lonesome, when Thomas was downstairs plying glasses of Kool-Aid lemonade from our mother. I didn't tell him about it. I kept it wrapped in a hankie, peeking at it under the covers, hiding it, through the girl years and teen years and college years.

I still pull it out once in a while to gaze through it and rub the angles, wonder how many other hands have touched it, what secrets it saw, how many diamond rings it would make.


At 11:22 AM, Blogger RunLuluRun said...

Wow. And Wow.


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